Highlander’s Vengeful Love (Preview)


Chapter 1 

“Och, watch where yer going, Arianna,” Fergus laughed, his eyes lighting up with amusement. “Ye nearly knocked me flat off o’ my feet, ye ken.”

Arianna had not been paying attention to where she was going as she walked down the corridor to her father’s rooms. She had simply been following the path by rote as she smiled to herself.

Her thoughts were anywhere but on the present; instead, she imagined what life would be like one day when she was finally given away as a bride by her father.

Arianna had one dream – one hope – when it came to who she hoped her father would choose to be her husband.
Scott, her distant cousin.

That was the future that Arianna could not stop dreaming about, the hope that she could not let go of.

Scott’s eyes, the color of a thunderstorm about to break, had been the focus of Arianna’s attention before she walked into Fergus, almost knocking herself over in the process as well. There was something undeniably powerful about his eyes; the way they shifted from the lightest gray to the color of slate fascinated Arianna endlessly. Her musings had just turned to the smile he seemed to reserve only for her – the devilish quirk to his lips always had her knees weak and set her heart aflutter when her thoughts were so rudely interrupted.

“I am so sorry, Fergus,” Arianna apologized, her eyes widening as her hand flew to her mouth in consternation. “I didnae mean tae –”
Fergus smiled, raising his eyebrows. “Ye looked like ye were somewhere else entirely. Daydreaming again?” he said, his tone light and friendly, making it clear to Arianna that he was merely joking with her.

She felt the blush creeping up her neck, tinging her cheeks a rosy pink. Arianna had a bad habit of letting her thoughts drift off, losing her concentration while she drifted off into imaginary futures filled with Scott’s strong arms and rakish smile, his kisses peppered on her neck and face. Arianna blushed even more deeply, realizing she was doing it again while standing right in front of Fergus. She dropped her eyes to the ground, holding her breath while she fervently hoped that Fergus was not able to read her mind and see straight through her inappropriate thoughts.

“Aye,” she nodded, lifting her head again, tilting her chin up slightly. She was the daughter of Laird Ranulf MacAllistair; this was their castle, and she had every right to daydream as much as she wanted. Nothing Fergus could say or do could change that, she thought, enjoying her moment of feeling rebellious.

She shrugged slightly; her chin still lifted as though she could look down on him. At her slight stature, he towered above her. He was known to be one of the strongest warriors in the Scottish Highlands. His broad shoulders and chest were testament to that fact; his muscular arms had trained for years upon years to carry the heavy sword Arianna’s father had bestowed upon him as a gift for completing his swordsman training.

There was no one that Laird Ranulf trusted more implicitly than Fergus; Arianna knew that well enough. He was a dedicated warrior and friend who had been hand-picked by Arianna’s father to be trained to become one of the best swordsmen in the country.

“Ye ken me, Fergus,” Arianna laughed, knowing that he s meant her no harm with his comment. She placed her hand to her breast as she smiled at him.

“Aye, that I dae.” The smile on his face was gentle enough, but it did not reach his dark blue eyes as he stared intently at her.

“I cannae go a day without losing mysel’ in a fantasy. Oh, what a life o’ despair I lead; the damsel in distress.” Arianna feigned a swoon, dramatically placing her other hand to her brow as she threw her head back slightly.

Fergus laughed, a deep, honest laugh that caused a grin to spread across Arianna’s face. She had always found it easy to be in Fergus’s company; he was easy to talk to and fun to banter with. He always seemed to find a way to make her laugh, even if it was at his own expense.

“Ye ken what they say, Arianna,” Fergus shook his head as he jokingly pursed his lips in disapproval, “Every lady in distress needs a knight in shining armor tae rescue her from the clutches o’ evil. The problem is…” He trailed off, tapping his index finger against his pursed lips.

Arianna raised her eyebrow, still smiling up at Fergus as he seemed to contemplate her.

“Dinnae keep me in suspense; that’s cruel, Fergus. Ye cannae say such a thing an’ leave me waiting. What is the problem then?” Arianna heard the whine in her own voice, doing her best not to flinch at the childish sound of it.

“Well, the problem is, there are not always enough knights tae go around, are there?”

Arianna gasped, aiming to punch Fergus lightly on the shoulder with her clenched fist. He chuckled as he dodged easily out of Arianna’s reach, his eyes sparkling with laughter and mirth.

“Are ye saying I am not deserving o’ a knight tae rescue me, an’ treat me like a queen?” Arianna huffed, crossing her arms across her chest as she tapped her foot on the slate floor. Fergus tilted his head to the side, his mouth twitching as he fought off a smile.

Fergus seemed to lose the war with himself as the smile finally broke through and spread across his face.

“Nae, yer most definitely deserving, my Lady,” Fergus bowed slightly, waving his hand in front of himself in a flourish as though he were a gentleman asking for Arianna’s hand to dance with him. “There is nae one in the Highlands more deserving than ye.”

“Och, ye will mak’ me blush, Fergus. I can only hope yer right,” she sighed, losing her focus again as she drifted off to Scott’s smile and strong arms. He was not as strong as Fergus, Arianna could see that clearly, but nevertheless, Scott was no weakling either.

Fergus cleared his throat, bringing her back to the present.

“Yer a dreamer, my Lady. Sometimes dreams come true.” The seriousness with which Fergus said it, coupled with the frown on his forehead, had Arianna on her back heels instantly. Instead of the friendly, light-hearted joke it could have been, Fergus’s dark tone indicated something much different to humor.

His eyes seemed to darken with displeasure, causing Arianna’s heart to pick up its pace, hammering in her ears as she clenched her fists at her side.

She breathed in deeply, trying to steady herself, as she wondered what right he had to judge her wish for a happy future with a man she wanted to be with. Her dream of becoming Scott’s wife was hers to keep close to her heart. Arianna had never told anyone of her secret crush on Scott – there was no reason for Fergus to judge her so harshly when he knew nothing about her daydreams.

“Aye, an’ I am sure that my dreams will come true. I will mak’ sure they dae,” Arianna all but stamped her foot on the ground, her temper getting the better of her.

“Will ye?” Fergus asked, eyebrows raised. “How can ye, if ye continue tae act like a wee lass, with naething but fantasies an’ dreams in yer head? Ye cannae see the reality o’ the world with yer head in the clouds,” he shook his head, all humor gone from his face.

“I am not a child, Fergus,” she hissed. “At least I have dreams, an’ hopes for my future, that may well come true. But ye, yer nothing more than a brute with naething tae look forward tae, it seems.”

“I ken I am nae perfect knight like Scott is, all tae well. That has been made perfectly clear,” Fergus replied as he stalked off down the corridor without looking back at Arianna. His shoulders were set, his back straight as he marched away from her.

His comment left Arianna flustered; there was no way that Fergus could know how she felt about Scott. No one did, but somehow, he had hit the nerve that was already raw. Arianna knew she was fascinated by Scott, but to say it so overtly left her chewing her lip as she contemplated why Fergus would say such a thing to her. It was unprovoked, she thought, as she shook her head to try to dislodge the unease Fergus had instilled in her.

Arianna and Scott had grown up together; he was a distant cousin who joined her father’s household when he was ten after his parents died. Laird Ranulf had done nothing but treat him like a son, and Scott, in turn, had stolen Arianna’s breath away as they grew older.

He was nothing short of a gentleman to her – she could not help but develop a crush on the young boy with floppy blonde hair, who had lost everything, but yet, who still managed to find a way to smile through his tears.

Arianna tossed her long scarlet hair over her shoulder as she straightened her spine, refusing to bow under the weight of what Fergus had said to her. Deciding to ignore it, for now, she continued on her way down the corridor to her father’s chambers.


Arianna knocked on the heavy wooden door and waited for her father’s call to enter.

Laird Ranulf was seated at his large desk, papers scattered before him, a frown furrowing his brow. His face lit up the moment he saw Arianna, as it always did when she was in his presence.

“My one an’ only daughter,” he said as he stood up and embraced her.

“Father,” Arianna smiled up at him.

“I am so glad ye came tae see me. It is just the perfect timing,” he beamed down at her.

Arianna’s curiosity was immediately peaked as she waited for her father to explain what he meant.

Ranulf walked over to the large window overlooking the castle battlements, his hands clasped behind his back, seemingly deep in thought.

“The night ye were born was both the worst an’ best day o’ my life, Arianna,” he said softly, his eyes unfocused as he delved into the memory.
“I ken, Papa,” Arianna suppressed her tears. It was never easy to hear Ranulf speak of that night. It begged the question of why her father was bringing up the worst night of his life. She knew the story well enough to know just how much losing her mother had devastated him; she could only wonder where the sudden urge to bring it up again was stemming from.

“Aye. Losing yer mother nearly killed me, my child. Ye remind me so much o’ her; ye have the same good heart an’ kindness she did. She would dae anything she could tae help someone, even if it cost her dearly tae dae so.”

Arianna nodded, even though her father was not looking at her. If there was one thing Arianna wished she could change about her life, it was the loss of her mother. She had grown up wishing that she had grown up with her. Arianna did not know what it felt like to have a mother, someone to protect her from everything, to kiss her goodnight and tend to her scrapes and bruises like a child.

Laird Ranulf had never remarried after Arianna’s mother had passed in childbirth. He had been a broken man, saved only by the birth of his daughter, like the stories she had heard all said.

Ranulf had never given her any cause to believe otherwise.

Arianna knew that she was blessed to have a father like Ranulf, but she wished things had been different for his sake and her own.

“Yer the spitting image o’ her,” Ranulf shook his head sadly. “Those eyes, those big green eyes – ye look just like her. She would be so proud o’ ye. She wanted ye more than anything in the world, ye ken. She loved ye before ye kicked for the first time. She insisted ye would be a girl, an’ that we would name ye Arianna. She just knew who ye were before ye were even born. I will never understand how she did that.”

“Papa,” Arianna said gently, placing her hand on his arm, forcing Ranulf to look at her. “Ye dinnae need tae keep haunting yersel’ with this.”

“Ye were a gift from God, sent to me and our clan that night. The battle we were fighting that very night, while yer Mama was giving birth tae ye, was one o’ the bloodiest battles I have ever seen, an’ I have seen more than enough tae keep me going for a lifetime,” Ranulf continued as though he had not heard her.

“Ye have said so ‘afore, though I dinnae see how I could be a blessing if Mama died, an’ I was born tae mark a battle,” Arianna shook her head slightly; it was something she had never understood, in all her years. She had been called a miracle and a sign from God her entire life through, but no one had ever explained why.

“The warriors who fought in that battle shed so much blood that night, my child. Those who survived were so traumatized by all that they had witnessed that many o’ them believed the dead were better off than they were,” Ranulf sighed, beckoning for Arianna to come closer.

He wrapped his arms around her before continuing, “But when they saw ye – with yer scarlet hair and yer Mama’s eyes – they knew ye were a sign o’ a blessing from God. All that bloodshed was not for naught; yer hair, so very like the color o’ blood, proved tae them that the war we had fought, the lives we had lost an’ taken, the blood we had shed, had all been in the name o’ God, an’ that he was pleased with our work.”

“How could they think that, Papa? I was only a bairn; I dinnae see how I can hold such a weight on my shoulders?” Arianna questioned her father, looking up at him with a frown.

“It isnae a weight, my daughter. It is an honor – it is something tae be proud o’. Yer incredibly special tae this clan, tae our people.” Ranulf smiled down at her, pride clear in his eyes as he looked down at his only child. “As long as they have ye, they will follow ye wherever ye go. Yer the luck o’ this clan. Dinnae forget that.”

“Papa, is it not time tae put the past tae bed? Tae let yersel’ find peace after losing Mama? She would have wanted ye tae be happy, I am sure o’ that.”
Ranulf smiled, placing his hand over hers where it still rested on his arm. “I am happy, my daughter,” he replied, his small smile reaching his eyes as evidence that he meant it.

“Ye look sad, not happy,” Arianna asked, puzzled.

“It has been an eventful evening,” Ranulf winked at her, causing Arianna to smile in return. “I have big news for ye – I think ye will be very happy tae hear it, too.”

Arianna raised her eyebrows, waiting patiently for her father to continue without her prodding him for more information.

“Oh, all right, I’ll tell ye,” he sighed and rolled his eyes, as though Arianna had been pestering him endlessly about it.

Arianna laughed, saying, “I ken ye would not be able tae keep it tae yersel’ for long, Papa.”

“Yer getting married,” Ranulf said, a broad smile spreading across his face as his eyes focused on Arianna’s face, clearly trying to gauge her reaction.

She gasped, her hands flying to either side of her face as she stared at her father, waiting for him to tell her he was only joking. When he did not, she finally found the words to stammer out, “I am?”

“Aye, ye are. He is the son o’ a noble family, an’ a good man at that. Ye will find great happiness with him, I believe that.”

“I cannae believe it,” she whispered, her mind immediately flashing to Scott.

It was happening, it was finally happening, she thought. Arianna could not contain her joy as she felt giddy with happiness and excitement.

She was finally going to marry Scott.

Chapter 2

Fergus had walked away from Arianna in a daze.

He had not meant to upset Arianna, just as he always seemed to do when it came to her daydreaming. He had also not intended on losing his temper over the festering wound in his heart that was Scott.

Fergus spent that night stuck in fitful nightmares. All he could see was Arianna marrying Scott, living out her life as his wife with Fergus forever on the side-line, his chance to be with her shattered to dust.

As he made his way to the dining room the next morning, Fergus could hear Arianna humming to herself. He loved hearing her sing – she had a hauntingly beautiful voice that drove shivers up and down his spine whenever he heard her sing a traditional Highlander song.

He paused at the threshold, closing his eyes as he listened to her, taking in the sound as though he could store it in his heart to hear it whenever he needed to.

Arianna stopped humming, the sound of clattering dishes echoing into the hallway. Deciding it was safe enough to enter, Fergus walked in and greeted her.

“Good morning, Fergus,” she beamed at him, giving him reason to pause at the change in her attitude.

“Morning, Arianna,” he smiled back at her, deciding to take her joy as a good sign.

Maybe… just maybe, he thought.

“Ye willnae believe it, Papa gave me the best news o’ my life last night,” she enthused, almost skipping to Fergus’s side.

“An’ what is this fantastic news?” his eyes crinkled at the corners as he fervently wished it was what he thought it was.

“I am tae be married,” Arianna was practically glowing with exuberance and happiness.

“Tae who?” Fergus asked, raising his eyebrows, refusing to let his consternation show through. Surely Laird Ranulf had spoken to her about the arrangement he had made for her betrothal?

“Papa didnae say specifically,” she nibbled on her bottom lip as she looked up at him. Her eyes threatened to drown Fergus; they simply took his breath away.


“Aye, but I am sure it must be Scott.” Arianna twirled where she stood, her skirts flaring out around her as her hair flew around her face, making her look as though she were the sunset on fire.

Fergus’s heart dropped into his stomach as his head began to spin. He could not breathe; he could not think.

This could not be happening.

Ranulf had made a promise – and Laird Ranulf was a man who kept his word.

Fergus had no idea how to react; he was unsure whether or not he should tell her so that she would know with certainty who she would be marrying. If Laird Ranulf had not told Arianna, then neither would he, he decided.

It was not his place; that was reserved for her father.

“Are ye now?” Fergus replied, walking over to the table laden with food. He picked up a plate and filled it, barely noticing what he was dishing up. The world seemed to be spinning around him as he sat down heavily at the table. He rested his head in his hands, trying to breathe past the pain lancing through his chest.

“I am,” Arianna asserted, taking the seat next to him. He had to stop himself from flinching as her elbow grazed his – a reminder of everything he wanted but seemed unlikely to ever have. “Papa kens my feelings.”

“Yer desire tae marry Scott, ye mean?” Fergus could not bring himself to look Arianna in her eyes, instead choosing to stare down at the food in front of him. His appetite had entirely disappeared, he found, as he pushed the plate away from himself.

“Aye, he kens what I want for my future. At least, I think he does,” Arianna paused, a frown furrowing her brow.

“An’ what makes ye think that what ye want is what is best for ye?” Fergus heard the spite in his own voice, unable to help himself.

“Excuse me?” Arianna’s face darkened in a fury instantly.

There was nothing for it, Fergus realized. He had put his foot in it completely – he might as well follow through with this fiasco.

“Yer young, Arianna. Ye dinnae ken what is right for yer future. Ye should leave that decision ta eyer father – tae those who have more wisdom an’ insight than ye dae.” He shook his head, trying his best to meet her gaze as tears gathered in her eyes. Fergus swore to himself. He wished he had just kept his mouth shut, to begin with. Now he was knee-deep in cow patties, and there was nothing he could do to fix it.

“I am not a child, Fergus,” Arianna all but shouted at him as she stood up, pushing her chair back hard against the flagstones, eliciting a high-pitched screech.

“Then stop acting like one,” Fergus replied, jaw clenched.

“I will stop when ye stop acting like an uncouth brute,” she hurled back at him as she marched out of the dining hall, not looking back at him over her shoulder. Fergus shook his head to himself as Arianna walked away from him, his hopes once again dashed like the ocean waves against the rocks on the shore. His plate of food forgotten, he made his way through the castle back to his own rooms.

He would never understand what she saw in Scott.

He could never understand why she could not see himself as anything more than a friend.

Her obsession with Scott never seemed to abate; it was as though Scott eclipsed Fergus in every way in her eyes. She could not see past the façade that Scott put on.

She could not see what was truly in front of her eyes.

Fergus knew Arianna better than she thought; he loved her more than she realized. And all he wanted for her was happiness.

Fergus sighed as he reached his private rooms in the castle. He closed the door behind him, resting his head against the wooden paneling. He sighed deeply as he replayed their conversation in his head.

Fergus could remember every detail of her delicate features as she stood there, belligerent to the end. From the sparkle of Arianna’s emerald eyes when she laughed to her luscious bottom lip that she liked to chew on, to the curve of her neck and the pulse of her heartbeat that always had him mesmerized, every single inch of her was emblazoned in his mind.

There was nothing about Arianna that did not appeal to Fergus.

The length of her straight hair, the color of fire and rubies, only emphasized her big eyes and clear, fair skin. She was radiant, shining as brightly as the sun at noon.

Fergus wondered if Scott ever thought of Arianna that way.

Did Scott even care enough to think of her that way?

Arianna was the first thing Fergus thought of when he woke up in the morning; she was the last thing he saw in his mind when he closed his eyes at night.

She was a determined young woman, a woman he believed would flourish and make an excellent Laird’s wife.

She only needed to marry the right man – the man who would cherish her and protect her until his dying breath.

That man was not Scott, Fergus thought ferociously to himself.


The messenger quietly left Fergus’s rooms later that evening; the news that had been delivered had been devastating for him to hear.

Fergus’s legs almost gave way under him as he sat down heavily in the chair by the hearth. His mind was spinning, nausea roiled in his belly as he stared blankly into the flickering flames. He tried to fight the tears off, but it was inevitable that they would begin to course their way down his cheeks as the news began to sink in.

It felt surreal, he thought, as he poured himself a measure of whisky on the table beside him. His hands were shaking, causing Fergus to spill more whisky than he managed to pour into his glass.

He took a long draught of the dram before placing his head in his hands as the tears gave way to sobs.

Time passed both slowly and quickly as Fergus sat there, with no one to hear his cries, with no one to comfort him in his time of need.

It was irrelevant to him whether hours or minutes had passed, as he finally found the strength to stand up again.

Fergus needed to see Laird Ranulf; his life had been changed irrevocably by the news he had just received.

He made his way to Ranulf’s rooms, his legs unsteady beneath him as he tried to breathe deeply.

Laird Ranulf was, as usual, sitting at his large desk, shuffling through the papers that always seemed to cover every inch of its surface.

“My brother is dead, Laird Ranulf,” Fergus’s voice broke as he sat down in the chair opposite the Laird.

Ranulf’s expression immediately changed to one of sympathy as his eyes softened and his face fell.

“I am so sorry, Fergus,” he said softly.

“It was just an ordinary hunting expedition,” Fergus shook his head, holding his tears at bay. “He fell off his horse; the animal trampled him tae death.”

“I wish I had words that would bring ye comfort, but ken that I understand the pain o’ loss, lad. My heart aches for ye. I am here for ye; anything ye need, ye need only ask.”

“I must return tae my clan as soon as I can, Laird. I must see tae the necessary affairs. I cannae believe it,” a tear slid down Fergus’s cheek, completely unnoticed by him. He knew as well as anyone else that Laird Ranulf still grieved the loss of his wife and that he would most likely never stop doing so.

“Aye, ye must go. Ye can leave as soon as yer ready. There isnae a reason tae stay when ye need tae be with yer family,” Ranulf said, understanding and pain echoing through his voice.

“Thank ye, Laird. I will leave the night after tomorrow; it is already far too late tae mak’ the journey tonight an’ I must finalize my responsibilities here ‘afore I leave.”

Ranulf nodded his agreement, stood up and poured them both a dram.

“Sit with me a while; let us grieve together,” he said as he handed Fergus his glass.


Fergus had spent the better part of the following day in a daze; he made sure to delegate his responsibilities as quickly as he could. While he was in the barracks, ordering the drills and routine missions of the soldiers that would be necessary during his absence, one of the soldiers who had been on patrol that day approached him with disturbing news.

“Yer sure?” Fergus asked again, his brow furrowed in concern.

“Aye, my Lord. There is something very strange afoot with these soldiers. They dinnae wear their clan colors, so we cannae say where they are from, or why they are on our land,” the soldier paused, shaking his head. “We can only tell that they are heavily armed, an’ doing their best tae approach the castle with caution. It is highly suspicious.”

“That it is. Thank ye, Angus. I will tak’ this news tae the Laird ‘afore I leave,” Fergus dismissed the soldier, mulling over the implications of what this news might mean.

It was the safest option to let Laird Ranulf know – even if it turned out to be nothing at all, it was better to be prepared than caught unawares.

Fergus was making his way through the castle towards the Laird’s chambers when he heard a woman screaming.

The blood in his veins turned to ice as he recognized the voice.


She was screaming incoherently at the top of her lungs, the sound of horror and panic reverberating through her cries and wailing.

Fergus dashed towards the direction of her voice, his heart racing in his chest, the thud-thud-thud of blood in his ears drowning out the clash of his shoes on the slate floors. His palms grew sweaty as moisture beaded on his forehead as he ran full tilt towards her screams of terror.

Fergus nearly collided with two armed soldiers as he rounded the corner of the corridor leading to the Great Hall. His feet skidded across the floor as he tried to stop his momentum, causing him to lose his footing. Fergus landed heavily on his left knee, the shock of the fall sending sharp pangs of pain throughout his leg. He grunted in pain as he tried to regain his footing – only to find the two soldiers drawing their weapons as they advanced on him, smiling grimly.

Arianna’s screams echoed through the corridor, an eerie, haunting sound as the blood rushed from Fergus’s face.

The soldiers were standing between him and the woman he had vowed to protect at all costs.

Still down on his knee, Fergus had no choice but to draw his sword as the soldiers began to sprint towards him, closing the few feet between them quickly.

The first soldier swung his sword in a wide arc, aiming to slice through Fergus’s neck. Fergus managed to raise his sword above his head in time to catch the edge of his foe’s blade against the hilt of his own. he pushed upwards and backward as hard as he could, bracing himself to the best of his ability as he pushed the soldier backward a few paces. It gained Fergus a few moments in which to scramble to his feet before the other soldier sliced through the air, his sword singing as it met with Fergus’s sword, blade catching blade mere inches from his face.

He grunted as he parried his opponent’s next blow; if it had landed, it would have sliced across his stomach, leaving him bleeding out in the corridor, unable to reach Arianna.

The second soldier approached Fergus with more caution while the other continuously tried to land a blow on any part of his body that the man could. Fergus fought off each attack, his heavy sword easily blocking the blows that kept coming.

Fergus noticed the second soldier trying to creep around behind him to catch him with the element of surprise.

He could not allow him to do that.

He swung on his heels, darting towards the man trying to attack him from behind, leaving the other soldier bewildered as he ran the first soldier through with his sword. Fergus yanked his sword out of the man’s belly, kicking him over as the lifeblood seeped from his veins. He turned back around to face his other opponent, sweat beading down the side of his face as he focused on breathing deeply.

Fergus took an offensive stance, balancing his weight on his front foot, his sword gripped in both hands, raised and aimed at the soldier’s chest.

“Why are ye here?” he demanded, cornering the soldier against the wall – noticing that his clan colors were missing.

“Tae help a friend,” the man spat on the ground. His attempt at bravery was sorely lacking as his eyes widened, showing more whites than anything else. His chest was heaving as he held his sword tightly in his hands, his knuckles turning white.

“Tae dae what? An’ who is this ‘friend’?” Fergus said through gritted teeth, advancing further onto the man. With his longer, heavier sword, Fergus had the advantage of being able to cause the man harm from a greater distance – a fact that did not seem to be lost on his foe.

“Why should I tell ye, McGill?” the man’s voice quivered slightly, even as he scowled at Fergus.

“Ah, ye ken who I am. Then ye also ken that I am one o’ the best swordsmen in the Highlands, eh?” Fergus smiled grimly.
The man nodded, swallowing heavily.

“Tell me what I want tae ken, an’ I may just let ye live,” Fergus said, taking another step closer to the soldier, who looked as though he was trying to shrink into the wall.

“We are here tae help Scott. But yer too late, the job is done.”

Fergus raised his eyebrow, waiting for the man to continue. The soldier took a deep, shuddering breath before replying.
“The Laird is dead. Scott killed him.”

If Fergus had not been a hardened, skilled swordsman, he might well have lost his grip on his sword and his hold on rationality.
“Yer lying,” he said, narrowing his eyes.

The soldier shook his head, his sword beginning to wobble in his hand as he watched the rage crossing Fergus’s face.

“Who are ye? Which clan dae ye belong tae?” Fergus all but growled.

“I will nae tell ye.”

“Then ye best say yer final prayers,” Fergus replied, as he swiftly closed the gap between them, ramming his sword into the soldier’s chest, right through his heart.

The soldier dropped to the ground heavily, his eyes wide and staring at nothing, as Arianna’s screaming suddenly stopped.

The silence was deafening.


Arianna was still holding her father’s head on her lap when she finally stopped screaming. She could not stop herself from continuing to sob, despite Scott’s threats of killing her where she sat if she did not.

She looked up at him through her tear-filled eyes, barely able to see him as he swam in front of her eyes, the look of a mad man on his face. Scott looked down on her, a haughty expression on his face as he took in the grief on her face and the despair with which she hung her head as their eyes met.

“Why?” Arianna finally managed to whisper, still staring down at her father’s face. If she had not known better, Arianna might have sworn he was only sleeping in her arms, not dead and gone from this world.

Scott began to walk up and down in front of the dais where her father’s chair of state was proudly presented for all to see the moment they entered the great hall. He stayed silent for several minutes, his lips pursed as he tapped his index finger against them, apparently deep in thought. His long blond hair was hanging loose around his shoulders, his gait long and confident as he paced.

Several of Scott’s men sat on the edge of the dais, most of them grinning and making jokes amongst themselves as they waited for Scott to give them instructions.

“Now that is an interesting question,” Scott said, finally stopping his pacing to stand in front of Arianna. She could not bear to bring herself to meet his gaze, choosing instead to stare blankly over his shoulder, tears still rolling down her cheeks.

Arianna’s heart was shattered in more ways than she could count or even comprehend at that moment.

The loss of her father, so brutally, so suddenly, tore at her heart like swords through flesh. She felt the pain lancing through her body with each heartbeat; her breathing was shallow and raspy as she fought the panic and terror clawing its way up her throat.

Her father lay in her arms, and though he looked at peace, Arianna knew that his last moments had been anything but that. She lifted one of her blood-soaked hands, staring at it without seeing it as she shook her head, trying to regain some control of herself.

Arianna closed her eyes briefly, throwing a prayer up to the heavens that she would find the strength to make it through this – that somehow, Scott would let her go and never come back to her clan, her home, again.

A sob escaped her throat again as she realized how deeply his betrayal ran through her soul.

Scott had murdered her father for no reason she could see or understand. He had been raised as though he were Ranulf’s own son. He had been afforded every right and luxury that a Laird’s son would have received. He was Ranulf’s son in all things but name and blood.

Arianna shuddered at the thought that she had been in love with Scott and at the thought that she had never realized who or what he truly was.

A monster.A cold-blooded murderer.

“Please, Scott, how could ye dae this?” she begged.

“Easily, Arianna,” he shrugged, as though it was of no consequence that the man who had raised him lay dead at his feet. “The answer goes something like this…” he trailed off, seemingly lost in thought again.

“Ye cannae imagine the torture yer father put me through,” he began, starting to pace again. “Ye see, I recently found out the truth about what happened tae my parents; o’ how I really came tae be here. O’ why I came tae be here.”

Arianna tried to force herself to meet Scott’s ice-cold stare – those eyes that had once seemed like a pool in which to lose herself now screamed hatred and disdain. She only wished she had known who Scott really was; she wished she could turn back the clock and save her father – she would have given her life for him in a second if only she had been given the chance.

But now, there was the very real possibility that she, too, would end up dead, buried in a shallow grave beside Laird Ranulf.

Scott knelt in front of Arianna, his face so close she could smell the whisky on his breath as it stirred her fiery red hair around her face.

“Ye see, yer father killed mine.”

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  • The beginning of your story sure packs a punch! I can’t wait for the scheming and dreaming to see how Fergus and Arianna will survive the dastardly Scott.

  • It’s already captured my interest and imagination, Kenna! I can’t wait to read the rest of the story! Another good one!!!

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